EGET, Access Target Norwegian Market

28 June 2001
Residents of Norway could soon be saying velkommen to two new online gambling opportunities, yet so far only one of them has the state's blessing.

Both Access Gaming Systems and European Gaming & Entertainment Technology Ltd. (EGET) recently inked deals with Norwegian companies to provide their gaming software for online gambling websites. EGET is set to partner with AS, which was one of three organizations to be granted test licenses by the government for Internet gambling on Dec. 29, 2000.

Access signed a deal with Norwegian company MyLuckyWorld (MLW) to supply its technology for an online gambling site, but according to MLW's CEO, the company is still waiting to hear whether it will be granted permission by the government to offer the site to Norwegians.

Bjorn Gunderson said MLW joined two other organizations, Care Norway and the Norwegian Handball Federation, to apply for a license. The application was made a few weeks ago, and Gudnerson hopes to get a reply in August. If the reply is negative, he said, they would apply again.

"We will not accept them having a monopoly," he said.

The Norwegian Gaming Board, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, granted three one-year temporary licenses for Internet gaming. Norskespill, 51 percent of which is owned by 10 different humanitarian groups, received one such license. The remaining 49 percent is owned by a company called AS, which specializes in interactive digital TV and content development.

Per Schrader-Nielson, Norskespill's CEO, said only three licenses were given out because of the government's tradition of regulating its citizens' gambling activities.

"They want to see that it's set up in a proper way," he said.

Norskespill will be offering lottery games. The other two licensees are Norsk Tipping, which will offer lotteries and sports betting, and Norsk Rikstoto, which will offer horse betting.

Norsk Tipping is currently recruiting customers to participate in its pilot project. Its corporate affairs officer, Paul Enger, said they hope to have 10,000 players this year. Enger said the company is confident it will be able to offer all of its games on the Internet permanently.

"As we understand it," he said, "the Norwegian government are open to let these three companies start Net gaming on a regular basis, but have made it clear that they want a thorough testing and a political debate before it's final."

Enger said that although all gambling activity on the Internet is forbidden in Norway, there are several Norwegian companies working in "gray areas of the Norwegian law" by appealing to Norwegian gamblers but housing their servers in other countries.

The Norwegian Gaming Board was established on Jan. 1 to take a close look at all aspects of gaming, including slot machines and Internet gambling. Norway currently has approximately 180 citizens per slot machine.

Gunderson calls that a social problem that the Access Gaming software could take care of by steering gamblers toward the Internet, where their age, address, and how much they have spent recently on gambling could be tracked. Norwegians are allowed to spend 1,500 krone (US$161.15) on gambling per week, he said. According the Norwegian Gaming Board, turnover in the Norwegian gambling industry surpassed 22 billion krone (US $2.5 billion) last year.

MLW is an application service provider offering marketing, game development and facility management services to licensed, regulated gaming operators and charities throughout Scandinavia. Its contract with Access is for the delivery of Access' new-version gaming site that contains casino games and lotteries. Gunderson said they had been hoping that Access and MLW could have linked up with Norskespill to provide its licensed gambling site.

Schrader-Nielson said Norskespill chose to have EGET, a Finnish company, provide its gaming software in part because it has worked with humanitarian organizations before and it knows the culture. EGET will supply its WinOne software to the Norwegian company.

"It's always important that you have more or less the same culture--you understand each other--if you plan to do business in the long run," Schrader-Nielson said.

Anne Lindner can be reached at